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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010 Jan;34(1):81-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.01069.x. Epub 2009 Oct 23.

Alcohol, cocaine, and brain stimulation-reward in C57Bl6/J and DBA2/J mice.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. fishe@neurology.unc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Pleasure and reward are critical features of alcohol drinking that are difficult to measure in animal studies. Intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) is a behavioral method for studying the effects of drugs directly on the neural circuitry that underlies brain reward. These experiments had 2 objectives: first, to establish the effects of alcohol on ICSS responding in the C57Bl6/J (C57) and DBA2/J (DBA) mouse strains; and second, to compare these effects to those of the psychostimulant cocaine.

METHODS:

Male C57 and DBA mice were implanted with unipolar stimulating electrodes in the lateral hypothalamus and conditioned to spin a wheel for reinforcement by the delivery of rewarding electrical stimulation (i.e., brain stimulation-reward or BSR). Using the curve-shift method, the BSR threshold (theta(0)) was determined immediately before and after oral gavage with alcohol (0.3, 0.6, 1.0, 1.7 g/kg) or water. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was measured to determine the influence of alcohol metabolism on BSR threshold. Separately, mice were administered cocaine (1.0, 3.0, 10.0, 30.0 mg/kg) or saline intraperitoneally.

RESULTS:

In C57 mice, the 0.6 g/kg dose of alcohol lowered BSR thresholds by about 20%, during the rising (up to 40 mg/dl), but not falling, phase of BAC. When given to the DBA mice, alcohol lowered BSR thresholds over the entire dose range; the largest reduction was by about 50%. Cocaine lowered BSR thresholds in both strains. However, cocaine was more potent in DBA mice than in C57 mice as revealed by a leftward shift in the cocaine dose-response curve. For both alcohol and cocaine, effects on BSR threshold were dissociable from effects on operant response rates.

CONCLUSIONS:

In C57 and DBA mice, reductions in BSR threshold reflect the ability of alcohol to potentiate the neural mechanisms of brain reward. The DBA mice are more sensitive to the reward-potentiating effects of both alcohol and cocaine, suggesting that there are mouse strain differences in the neural mechanisms of brain reward that can be measured with the ICSS technique.

PMID:
19860803
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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